After I decided to make public a telegram bot to monitor bus time in Dublin (@dublin_bus_bot). Before the release I became curious to see how many people will use it (spoiler: just an handful) and I thought that would be a good idea to track the use on google analytics.
Google analytics provide a measurement protocol that can be used to track things that are different from websites (mobile apps, IOT). At the moment no elixir client exists for this protocol (and it would not be anything more than an api wrapper). My plan is to make call to the Google Analytics TK endpoint with HTTPOison but I’d prefer to not have to call the tracking function for every single bot command.
One of the feature that I prefer of the elixir are macros, macros allow to generate code at compile time. I decided to define a macro that looking like a function definition would define a function with the same body and with an additional call to the track function. I decided this approach because seems more idiomatics than using the decorator syntax typical of other languages (
I implemented this approach in meter to use in the telegram bot I wrote.
Elixir macros are a powerful tool to abstract away some functionality or to write DSLs. They require a bit of time to wrap head around, in particular with the context swith, but it totally worth the hassle if you can reduce the clutter in your code base.
I played for some time with the idea of having a telegram bot run serverless in the cloud. Obviously the code run on some server but it is not necessary to care to provision, deploy, starting the application, etc. All you care about is your code.
GC Functions can be triggered by Pub/Sub events, buckets events and HTTP invocations. The latter is the one that we are going to provide as webhook to Telegram to be invoked when a message is sent to our bot.
Functions are going to remove some friction from our code, when the request is set with the appropriate
application/json header the parsed json will be available on the request and when we send back an object is automatically serialized and sent back to the client.
The example code of the project can be found at https://github.com/carlo-colombo/serverless-telegram-bot-gc-functions
- Google Cloud account and a project. https://cloud.google.com/resource-manager/docs/creating-managing-projects
- Enable Google Cloud Functions and RuntimeConfig API from the API manager.
- Get a telegram bot token, ask it to the BotFather.
- Both Google Cloud Functions and RuntimeConfig are both still in beta.
- Even if the GCP free tier is quite extended some costs can be billed.
Just an easy bot that echos the received message.
This function return a (promise) of a token either from the runtime config api when run online or from an environment variable when run locally. The value is retrieved using fredriks/cloud-functions-runtime-config that wraps the api.
NODE_ENV is set to production when the function is run online, thus allowing to discriminate in which environment the function run.
Google provide a local emulator for Functions feature. It allow to local deploy a function to iterate over it without having to deploy to the google server. It reload the code when changed on the file system so it is not necessary to redeploy after the first time.
Before deploy the function is required to create a Cloud Storage bucket where the function will be stored
Deploying the function with the http trigger will return an url to trigger the function. The url would look like
https://<GCP_REGION>-<PROJECT_ID>.cloudfunctions.net/function_name. Use this url to set up a web hook for your bot on telegram. You can check more information on webhook on the Telegram API documentation
Setting up a Telegram bot using Google Cloud Functions is quick and easy, and with the HTTP trigger is possible to seamlessy set a webhook endpoint for a bot without having to care about a server and https certificates (http trigger are https).
One last thing to keep in mind is that Functions are stateless and require to be connected to other services to store data or be for example scheduled.